The Trossachs Trail
This week’s blog is written by Lesley and Mike Stevens from Westerton B&B in Callander. It really is a must read and a MUST DO!
The Trossachs Trail will take you on a journey through the magnificent scenery created by the Highland Boundary Fault. The enchanting scenery of The Trossachs has inspired artists and authors for centuries, a land of shimmering lochs, misty mountains and ethereal glens.
Featured on the BBC4 series as one of “Britain's Best Drives” this scenic drive is just over 40 miles long with a highly recommended option of a further 30 miles. You'll find a view around every corner and so many interesting stops to explore along the way there's enough to keep you busy for several days.
The Trossachs Trail passes through the UK's newest and largest National Nature Reserve, The Great Trossachs Forest. The entire area is a walker's paradise, with walks to suit all abilities from gentle woodland walks to challenging hill paths. The recently created Great Trossachs Path links two of Scotland's well established Great Trails – The West Highland Way and The Rob Roy Way creating a long distance circular trail. For cyclists there are lots of cycle trails too including Sustrans Cycle Route 7.
The Trossachs Trail circular route begins and ends in the picturesque Trossachs town of Callander. Nestling beneath Callander Crags and Ben Ledi on the banks of the River Teith and River Leny, Callander is the largest town in the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park and gateway to the Scottish Highlands. There are some lovely woodland, waterfall and riverbank walks from Callander's pretty town centre. Visitors will find lots of niche shops and galleries, quaint cafes and tearooms, good restaurants and friendly pubs in Callander. Cycle hire is available as are fishing permits.
The Trossachs Trail Route
From Callander town centre head north west on the A84 for about 1 mile, turn left on to the A821 at Kilmahog following the Trossachs Trail signpost. You will pass the Lade Inn on your left, real ale aficionados will love “The Real Ale” shop. There is a parking area just after The Lade Inn on your left – with a great choice of walks – Sustrans Cycle Route 7, The Rob Roy Way, Ben Ledi, Samsons Putting Stone and Dunmore Iron Age Fort, The Great Trossachs Path and Bochastle (also suitable for mountain bikes).
Continue on the A821 and soon Loch Venachar will appear on your left. If you are ready for coffee or lunch The Harbour Cafe at Venachar Lochside serves excellent food (the Cullen Skink is delicious) and has an outdoor deck with stunning views over the loch – They were awarded the Scottish Thistle Award 2015/2016 for The Best Informal Eating Place. Fishing and boat hire on Loch Venachar is also available here too.
Continue on the A821 and after approximately 1 mile Little Drum Wood on your left is a lovely woodland
walk. Or continue on for a further ½ mile to The Glen Finglas Visitor Gateway Centre
for a choice of walks from gentle woodland walks to the challenging 15 mile/24 km “Meall”.
Continue on the A821 to the tiny village of Brig O' Turk, on the right you'll find the quaint Brig O' Turk Tea Room made famous in the 1959 version of the film “The 39 Steps”. Take a stroll through the village to the Glen Finglas Reservoir and see if you can spot “The Bicycle Tree” on the way. A little further on “The Byre Inn” on your left has a nice beer garden.
Continue following the A821 and very soon Loch Achray comes in to view with the picturesque Trossachs Church. Pass Tigh Mor - a former Victorian hotel now converted to timeshares - on your right, then on your left you'll soon arrive at the Ben A'an car park. At only 1207ft/460m, Ben A'an has more attitude than altitude, but it's well worth the energetic hike to the summit of this miniature mountain to find the most rewarding view over Loch Katrine and The Trossachs.
The A821 bends sharply round the left, but take a small detour and take the side road straight ahead to Loch Katrine for about 1 mile. Take a leisurely stroll along the banks of Loch Katrine or enjoy the view from the loch on a cruise on the 116 year old steamship “Sir Walter Scott” or the “Lady of The Lake” Cycle hire is also available.
Return to the A821 turning right – this stretch of road over the hills to Aberfoyle is known as “The Dukes Pass”. There are a couple of parking places on your left offering splendid views over Loch Achray and Tigh Mor and the Ben Venue car park is off to your right. Ben Venue (725m) is a challenging hill walk to rewarding views over The Trossachs.
Continue to follow the Duke's Pass as it twists and turns through The Trossachs and after approximately 4 miles the Three Lochs Forest Drive is on your left. Access to the drive is via payment into an honesty box – the funds are used to maintain the drive, so please pay the fee. This lovely drive is the only access to picturesque Loch Drunkie – there are some lovely woodland walks and loch shore picnic spots.
Continue on the A821 and after approximately 3 miles turn left into The Lodge Forest Visitor Centre – there are forest walks, the short “Waterfall Walk” is a lovely gentle walk and has a nature hide where you can view red squirrels and forest birdlife. The more adventurous can try a high wire experience at Go Ape at “The Lodge Forest Visitors Centre”.
Continue on the A821 and begin the descent into the Trossachs village of Aberfoyle with its shops and cafes. The Scottish Wool Centre has several sheepdog shows daily, don't miss the lovely little local crafts shop tucked in behind The Scottish Wool Centre. Climb Doon Hill and discover the magical history of the 17th century “faeries”. Try out the “Hot Rock” menu at The Faerie Tree Inn.
As you descend into Aberfoyle it is well worth taking a detour on to the B829 (this is a narrow single track road which ends at the north fjord like end of Loch Lomond, return is by the same route but the views are wonderful.) You will pass beautiful Loch Ard on your left, at the village of Kinlochard we can highly recommend the quirky “Wee Blether Tea Room” for delicious home baked cakes and scones. The outdoor deck offers beautiful views over Loch Ard, as well as an insight into the quirky humour of the owner.
Continue along the B829 single track road passing Loch Chon, there are some lovely loch shore picnic spots on your left. When you reach a T-junction on the B829, turn right to visit Stronachlachar Pier at the west end of Loch Katrine and the quaint “Pier Café” or turn left and continue along the shores of Loch Arklet and on to Inversnaid and the north east shores of Loch Lomond.
Take a cruise on Loch Lomond from Inversnaid, it is a lovely relaxing way to admire the “Bonnie Banks”. Alternatively, you can explore part of The West Highland Way or simply admire the waterfalls and the stunning views over Scotland's largest loch.
The B829 ends at Inversnaid, return to Aberfoyle by the same route. At Aberfoyle follow signs for A81 Callander, driving straight ahead at the mini -roundabout as you leave Aberfoyle.
In a few miles you will see Lake of Menteith on your right, this is Scotland's only “Lake”. At the tiny village of Port of Menteith take a right turn, pass “The Lake Hotel”, the church, and the Lake of Menteith Fisheries, then park in the small car park on your right. Take a short boat trip on Lake of Menteith over to the peaceful little island of Inchmahome and its 13thcentury ruined priory. The ferry is on demand, simply stand on the pier and turn the white board to face the island. The “Port Bar” at “The Lake Hotel” has a lovely beer garden and is perfect for lunch (or dinner).
Continue on the A81, shortly after Port of Menteith you will pass Castle Rednock Farm on your left which offers pony trekking and cross country Segway adventures. At Castle Rednock Farm continue straight ahead following signs for Stirling on the A873 through the village of Thornhill and on to Deanston and Doune.
Visit Deanston Distillery, located on the banks of the River Teith or continue on to the junction of the A84, turn left over the bridge then turn right and visit Doune Castle. This 14thcentury castle was home to Regent Albany, Scotland's uncrowned king. Doune Castle is also a popular film location and has featured in Monty Python and The Holy Grail, Game of Thrones and more recently appeared as “Castle Leoch” in Diana Gabaldon's “Outlander” series.
Return to the A84, turning right following signs for Callander.
Visit the Scottish Antiques and Arts Centre on your right.
Continue on the A84 back to Callander.
We hope you enjoy your trip
Thank you to Lesley and Mike at Westerton B&B in Callander for taking the time to drive around their beautiful part of Scotland. You can lean more about their B&B here